About 25 protesters gathered Monday afternoon outside the Anderson County Courthouse to show their support for victims of sexual harassment and to call for the resignation of Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk William Jones.
“I really feel like he should resign,” said Tara Wethingon, a Clinton resident who said she is friends with a woman who has been victimized by Jones.
The protest took place within feet of Jones' Circuit Court clerical offices at the courthouse.
Records obtained by 10News show at least five women have alleged that Jones harassed them.
Allegations include improper touching, sending at least one woman a vulgar message, asking illegal personal questions of female employees and improper touching, records show.
Complaints about Jones date to at least 2015. Former employees say turnover has been rampant in Jones' offices because of his behavior.
Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager has warned Jones his conduct leaves the county vulnerable to legal action by the women. Human Resources officials began investigating Jones for several complaints in summer 2017, although one woman employee also complained in 2015.
He has not been charged with a crime.
The Anderson County Commission last week condemned the alleged conduct and called on Jones, in his first elected term in office, to resign. They cannot force him out.
Jones has declined, telling 10News he’s being attacked for political reasons. He said he's hiring attorneys to fight the accusations.
He’s running this spring for his second term.
Former Anderson County Commissioner Angeleque McNutt helped organize Monday’s rally. McNutt said she understands there may be more women who have been harassed.
"We've got women inside this courthouse that are having to come into a work place that it seems to be proven a hostile work environment, and I just feel like someone somewhere needs to take a stand on this matter," McNutt said.
Politics aren't to blame, she said.
"This is not about a political coup to remove someone from office," McNutt said. "This is about sexual harassment in the work place."
Protesters brought signs that included “No More William T. Jones” and “He’s not my daddy” - a reference to the allegation that the Republican likes to refer to himself in the office as “Daddy” and referred to at least one woman as “Daddy’s b**ch.”
Oak Ridge resident Abbie Moore said she came to the protest after learning harassment accusations had been made against Jones. She thinks he should step down, but she said that leaves opponent Rex Lynch perhaps to win the seat.
Lynch, the former mayor of Anderson County, pleaded guilty in 2011 to sales tax fraud.
"The person who is running to fill his office is alleged to have done other criminal things," Moore said, "and may not be a lot better. So it's concerning. We need some more people in the county who could step up and fill those roles."